You Lack Power To Remove Me, Gov Ikpeazu Tells Justice Abang | Independent Newspapers Limited
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You Lack Power To Remove Me, Gov Ikpeazu Tells Justice Abang

Posted: Jun 29, 2016 at 6:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…PDP Says Judge Misconceived Case Before Him


Ben Duru

Umuahia – Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has said that the judgment of an Abuja Federal High Court removing him from office was a one sided event that did not take his own side of the story into consideration before ruling was delivered.

In a notice of appeal filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) five grounds of appeal were raised upon which he asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court, including that the Federal High Court lacked the powers to order him to vacate the seat of Abia State governor.

According to him, “The trial judge erred in law when he ordered as a consequential order that the appellant vacates his office? as the governor of Abia State immediately when there was no jurisdiction in the Federal High Court to remove, vacate the occupier of the office of the governor of a state or order the removal of such officer after the unsuccessful challenge of the result of the election at the tribunal and swearing in of the appellant as the governor.”

The governor maintained that the only power, authority and order exercisable by the Federal High Court was to disqualify the candidate from contesting the election based on section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010.

Ikpeazu also faulted the judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for 2011, 2012 and 2013, as at when due, when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme where tax deductions were from the source of his monthly salary by the tax authorities who issued all the tax receipts and certificates.

Furthermore, he said that the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Service that issued him with the tax certificates had not declared the certificates forged and that the trial court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence in the course of the trial.

Ikpeazu said that the plaintiff, Dr Samson Uchechukwu Ogah, was not a staff of the Abia Board of Internal Revenue and that no staff of the board testified ?that the tax certificates were forged and that the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, violated his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him (Ikpeazu) the opportunity to address the court on the issue.

“The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that the appellant presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission by his ingenious meticulous study and investigation of documents filed in courts ?in the recess of his chambers and thereby violated the right of the appellant to fair hearing, adding that the judge had no duty to investigate the contents of documents dumped on the court in the recess of his chambers.

“The decision of the judge which arose from the judicial investigation without opportunity to the appellant violated the appellant’s right to fair hearing”, the governor said.

Ikpeazu also rejected the decision of the high court declaring him unqualified to be nominated at the primary election conducted by his party because false information was supplied to it.

Meanwhile, the PDP has also rejected the judgment and filed a separate appeal on the grounds that the trial court erred in law when it held that it had jurisdiction to hear the suit which was on whether section 24 (f) of the 1999 constitution was complied with.

It said,? “The honourable trial court misdirected itself when it construed the provisions of the PDP constitution to the detriment of the appellant without giving the appellant a chance to be heard and thereby occasioned miscarriage of justice.”

In the particulars of the error, the appellant said Ukeagbara and Mba being “the 1st and 2nd respondents in the appeal did not pray the trial court to construe the provisions of the PDP constitution.

“No evidence was led that the said Uche Sampson Ogah participated in the 2015 Abia State gubernatorial elections yet the trial court declared him as winner of the said elections contrary to the express provisions of section 141 of the Electoral Act.”

The PDP urged the Court of Appeal for “an order setting aside the judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/10862014 delivered on the 27th day of June, 2016.”

Justice Okon Abang had on Monday ordered Ikpeazu’s removal from office for allegedly giving false information in the form submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission by the PDP, nominating him as its candidate for the April 11, 2015 governorship election.

In two separate judgments, Justice Abang ordered Ikpeazu to vacate the office of the governor of Abia State.

The judge also directed INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to the plaintiff in one of the two suits, Uche Ogah, who was the first runner-up in the governorship primaries conducted by the PDP on December 8, 2014.

He had ordered that Ogah’s full entitlements be restored to him as governor of Abia State.

The judge made the orders after disqualifying Ikpeazu as the candidate of the PDP in the April 11, 2015 governorship election on the basis that he committed perjury by giving false information in the Form 8C001 and documents accompanying it, which he and the PDP submitted nominating him to INEC as the party’s governorship candidate.